Let’s be honest. Winter in Chicago is long, cold…and kind of depressing. So in addition to hibernating and cozying up in your favorite sweaters and sweatshirts, don’t forget to indulge in some much needed comfort food. I mean, bikini season is still a looooong way away and sweatpants have elastic waistbands for a reason. Trying to decide where to indulge in the best comfort food in Chicagoland? Here are my favorite places to splurge on calories!
Although there is a debate amongst Chicagoans about where to find the best stuffed pizza (sorry, but thin pizza need not apply for this pizza debate), I am a proud devotee of Lou Malnati’s. Why? Each location is consistent with their superb, buttery crust, and the ratio of cheese and sauce can’t be beat. And they deliver, so you don’t even have to get off the couch to enjoy your pizza. If you are looking for an independent pizza joint, Pequod’s is also a ooey, gooey, cheesey treat.
What makes a donut great? Some say it’s the texture. Others say it’s the taste. As for me, I think it is a combination of both, and if you are looking for a bakery that serves up swoon worthy traditional and innovative donut flavors, you have to visit Stan’s Donuts. There are tons of locations to choose from, and each provides deletable donuts including traditional cake donuts, doughy options such as Peanut Butter Banana Pockets, and specialty donuts such as Pistachio Glazed and Apple Fritters. You can’t go wrong with any of their pastries, and don’t forget the gourmet coffee, too!
I’m about to tell you something absolutely crazy, but just bear with me. You see, one of the most romantic restaurants that people go to for anniversaries and other special holidays fries up the most delicious chicken I’ve ever had. Seriously. Don’t believe me? Then head to Bavette’s and order the fried chicken. You won’t be sorry. If you are looking for a more casual environment, roll up your sleeves and head over to Honey Butter Fried Chicken. Although it is strange to dig into boneless fried chicken, their unique seasoning and side of honey butter proves that you don’t need bones for a delicious piece of fried chicken.
Although you have to wait in what can be a long line weekend mornings, the Walker Brother’s apple pancake is totally worth it. There is something about the sweet layers of apple and syrup that go perfectly with a fresh brewed cup of coffee. You can even snag a frozen apple pancake to keep in your freezer for those days when you just want to hibernate and eat ALL THE CARBS.
There are tons of delicious places to snag a beefy burger, but there is one sandwich that reigns supreme…the original Hackneyburger from local favorite, Hackney’s. It’s one of those dishes that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles because it is unnecessary. Simply served up with lettuce, onion, and tomato on a toasted bun, this burger is oh so comforting and delicious. And be sure to enjoy a loaf of fried onion rings along with your burger so that you can create the perfect, indulgent meal. If you are looking for a more gourmet burger with all the bells and whistles, you can’t go wrong with Au Cheval…just be prepared to wait in line!
I’m a girl who loves a good slice of pie, especially for breakfast, and I’m lucky to say that I have sampled from some of the best bakeries in Chicagoland…all in the name of research, of course! But my favorite spot to relax with a slice of pie and hot cup of coffee is Bang Bang Pie and Biscuits. You can’t go wrong with their Apple Cherry, Banana Cream, or Chocolate Pecan treats, or any of their savory hand and pot pies.
MATZO BALL SOUP
When I met my husband over a decade ago, he introduced me to an entire new world of comfort food: Jewish cuisine. Potato pancakes, brisket, matzo ball soup….they are all SO GOOD. And when you have a cold, there is nothing more heartwarming than a steaming hot ball of matzo ball soup. The next time a craving hits, head over to Max and Benny’s in Northbrook for their delicious, homemade soup. And don’t forget to dunk your bialy in the perfectly seasoned chicken broth.
First of all, let me be clear. I’m a Chicagoan who puts ketchup on her hot dog. There, I said it. And you know what? It is DELICIOUS. There are some hot dog stands that have teased me and then served me a mediocre red hot, so they can simply keep their opinions to themselves. I prefer high quality, all beef dogs that are offered from high quality restaurants such as Portillo’s (and p.s.—they now deliver from some locations!) and the Chicago classic Superdawg drive in.
Now that I’ve wet your whistle with my favorite comfort foods, tell me, where are your favorite places to indulge in comfort food? I’m always looking for delicious spots to add to my repertoire.